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Currituck County rose to fame as a vacation destination in the early 1900s because of its exceptional duck and waterfowl hunting, and off-season visitors will find ample opportunities to enjoy these same fantastic hunting conditions today.
Before you go, be sure to brush up on the following information regarding permits, applications, seasons, and bag limits, to ensure a good (and completely legal) time.
Where to Hunt
The bulk of hunting in Currituck County takes place along or in the Currituck Sound. On the mainland, hunters can explore the Hog Quarter Landing off of Spot Road, or the regions near Piney Island and the adjacent Church Island. All of these regions are located just off of US 158 and are easily accessible.
The Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge, a very popular hunting destination, can be accessed by driving down from the state of Virginia or by taking the 45 minute free Knotts Island Ferry, which departs daily 4-6 times per day from the town of Currituck. Note that the Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge is generally open for hunters from 5:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. in season.
On the beaches, the best hunting is within the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge, which is divided into four distinct units: the South Marsh Unit, the Swan Landing Unit, the Station Landing Unit and the Currituck Marsh Unit.
- The South Marsh Unit is located at the southern edge of the refuge, close to the town borders of Corolla. This region includes several marshy islands in the sound.
- The Swan Landing Unit is located in the center of the refuge and is one of the larger on-land parcels. Though it borders the sound, there are a limited number of outlaying islands for duck blinds or concealed skiffs.
- The Station Landing Unit is the smallest parcel of terrain and is located close to the residential area of Carova.
- The Currituck Marsh Unit is almost strictly comprises of islands, which are among the largest in the region and border both the barrier island as well as the Mackay National Wildlife Refuge.
Please note that a boat or a 4WD vehicle is required to access the majority of the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge.
A complete map of the region, provided by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) can be found online at http://www.ncwildlife.org/Portals/0/Hunting/GameLand_Maps/Coastal/Currituck_Banks.pdf/.
The Geography of Currituck County Hunting Grounds
Big and small game hunters will want to stick to the wooded areas - of which there are many, both within the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge and the Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge. These regions are large parcels of maritime forest that are thick with cedars, live oaks, pines, and other evergreen trees, and while there are a handful of rustic nature trails throughout both refuges, the terrain is rugged.
Waterfowl hunters will want to head to the Currituck Sound. A series of marshy islands can be found throughout the sound, (close to both refuges), and the mainland borders miles of open water for easier-to-navigate terrain.
What to Hunt in Currituck County
Currituck County is best known for duck hunting, and a number of species can be targeted in the area including teal, pintails, mallards, black ducks, blackheads, ruddy ducks, buffleheads, canvasbacks, and redheads. Ducks are best found in various water-based habitats in the county, from open water regions to marsh estuaries and grassy flats.
Small and big game hunting is also popular in the county, particularly in the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge. Deer, feral pigs, squirrels, rabbits, and other smaller species can often be found, especially in the densely wooded regions.
Hunting Seasons, Rules and Regulations.
Currituck County is unique in that its hunting is regulated by both the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) as well as the Currituck Game Commission.
As a result, hunters will want to keep the following regulations and rules in mind when visiting Currituck County.
- A NCWRC Hunting License is required to hunt in Currituck County. This license can be picked up at the Outer Banks Center for Education in Corolla, (next to the Whalehead in Historic Corolla), or can be purchased online at http://www.ncwildlife.org/Hunting.aspx.
- Seasons vary from year to year, but mainly fall between the months of October through January. Seasons also vary by species, and hunters can find an updated schedule on the NCWRC's website at http://www.ncwildlife.org/Hunting/SeasonsLimits.aspx.
- A special blind license is required to construct and / or use a duck blink in Currituck County. Blind permits are administered and granted by the Currituck Game Commission, and complete information on rules regarding duck blinds, as well as forms for new applicants, can be found online at http://www.currituckgamecommission.org/commissionrmit may be required to hunt in the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge, and can be obtained via mail or in person at the Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge Visitor's Center on Knott's Island. Information on obtaining a permit, as well as associated fees and a printable application, can also be found online at http://www.fws.gov/Currituck/BigGameApp.html.
- A deer hunting permit may be required to hunt in the Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge. The permit can be found online at http://www.fws.gov/southeast/pubs/mckhnt.pdf, and more regulation-specific information can be found online at http://www.fws.gov/Mackayisland/reg.html.
Regardless of where a hunter explores in Currituck County, the following guidelines generally apply throughout the area, and in both National Wildlife Refuges.
- While 4WD vehicles are often required to access certain hunting grounds, use of ATV's and any other unlicensed and unregistered vehicles are prohibited.
- Hunting is not allowed outside designated areas, or within 300' feet of the refuge office(s.)
- Carrying a loaded firearm or bow on or within 50' feet of gravel roads is prohibited.
- Shooting from a vehicle or shooting on or across roads or roadways is prohibited.
- Alcoholic beverages are generally not allowed within the refuge and hunting areas.
- Hunters may not camp or leave a portable stand out overnight in the refuges.
- Hunters may not dump animal parts within 100' feet of roads, wetlands and waterways.
- Blazing, or marking trees and vegetation with flags or other markers, is prohibited.
- All hunters must wear blaze orange.
- All hunters are subject to inspections of permits, licenses, tags, hunting equipment, bag limits, boats, vehicles, and their contents during compliance checks by Refuge Officers, North Carolina Wildlife Officers, and any state or local law enforcement officer.
For a complete list of laws as well as current bag limits by species, visit the NCWRC website at http://www.ncwildlife.org/Hunting/LawsSafety.aspx.
Hunting Guide Services
Currituck's tourism economy was initially built on the income produced by local hunting guides, and there are still a number of hunting guide services that serve the waterfront regions of Currituck County.
Hunters can typically book a half-day or full-day trip, and prices vary both by the length of the excursion, as well as the type of game.
For example, waterfowl hunting and boating trips tend to be more expensive, due to the extra costs of gas, wear and tear, and general boat maintenance.
Advanced reservations are required, and most guide services can cater to parties of 1-6 hunters. A sample of the hunting guide services in Currituck County is listed below.
- Fourth Generation Outfitters of North Carolina - 252-453-8243 or 252-619-2880
- Franks Guide Service of Walnut Island Sports Center - 252-453-2261
- Cutawhiskie Creek Outfitters - 252-333-2279
- East Coast Charters - 252-714-1467
- Monquin Creek Outfitters - 804-337-8247
- River To Woods Guide Service - 919-201-8054
- Lonely Pines Hunt Club - 252-207-3272